An image of a website shown on an Apple Cinema Display monitor.

The homepage of the Standard Work Specifications tool.

The Standard Work Specifications Tool provides online access to industry-approved work specifications that define acceptable outcomes for weatherization and home energy upgrades. It’s an industry guide for workers, training instructors, homeowners, and program administrators involved in the home performance industry.

I was a user centered design (UCD) consultant and UI designer for the tool. I led the collaborative design phase of our UCD process, and produced all the major design deliverables. I also participated in the usability study as an observer and presented the results of the UCD process to the clients.

Our user centered design methodology started with stakeholder interviews to understand what the Standard Work Specifications were and the need they were intended to fulfill. The SWS were part of a larger project to help establish a national residential energy upgrade industry and a skilled and credentialed workforce. The specifications for single-family, multifamily, and manufactured housing describe acceptable outcomes for weatherization or home performance upgrades—effective, durable, and safe improvements for each housing type. These were being developed as documents, but the web application we were developing needed to present the three standard work specifications as a unified resource, eliminating redundancies between them.

We then conducted user research to understand our target audiences. Fortunately, the stakeholders included industry partners and associations that provided us with real user contacts, and our team conducted in-depth interviews with a number of actual users. From these interviews, we were able to create personas and scenarios that mapped to the four main user groups that would comprise our target audience.

Image showing screenshots of the Standard Work Specifications tool

Much of the functionality found in the web application derives directly from feedback we learned from users.

These interviews and subsequent usability testing led to the inclusion of features like Favorites (the ability to mark specifications as favorites to be saved in a list that can be retrieved later), and navigation using an expandable table of contents which users were familiar with from the printed documents. We also created an API for the data in the application so that private industry could use it to build to tools of their own with additional functionality.

Services Provided: UI design, visual design, UCD consultation, CSS development
Date: 2014

View the Standard Work Specifications website.